Value Sires, Part V: First Sophomores in 2022

Wed, 12/15/2021 - 13:23

Silver: UNIFIED (Candy Ride {Arg}–Union City by Dixie Union), $10,000, Lane's End

The other steps on the podium go to a couple that could heat up a slightly tepid commercial reception for their yearlings, now that they are beginning to offer a more meaningful gauge of their ability to recycle their excellence. Unified, in contrast, has achieved an absolutely unmissable momentum at auction.

Sure, his first crop has performed with ample credit on the track. His 15 winners from 41 starters include three who scored at black-type level. These include two-for-two Behave Virginia, winner of the Debutante S. at Churchill, and three-for-three Unified Result, a $33,000 yearling who has bossed the Louisiana-bred scene.

And that was consistent with the dash Unified had shown in his own career, despite never making the track himself at two. He landed running with a 99 Beyer, clocked 1:47.14 in the GII Peter Pan, and missed the GI Carter H. by just a neck. And he has the physique and pedigree for his first sophomores to stretch that speed, too.

But the really staggering advance made by Unified since this time last year is the performance of his second crop at the yearling sales. He sold 39 out of 40 into the ring, an unbelievable ratio, for an average $66,846–dizzily multiplying a fee that has, unusually enough, remained constant throughout. Remember that stallions are typically flattered by sales statistics, in that their averages “reward” them for failing to sell their least attractive stock. (Sure, you also have to factor in the occasional ambitious reserve for better models–but the principle stands.) Remember also that almost all stallions absorb considerable erosion in yearling values between their first and second crops, yet Unified elevated his by almost exactly half from $43,390.

In the meantime, he had already turned round the slide so familiar in a young stallion's books. After shrinking from 152 mares in his debut year (basically oversubscribed, by the commendably restrained standards of this farm) to 102 and then 68, he was right back up to 144 last spring.

It's extremely unusual for a stallion at this stage of his career to be accelerating like this, without the kind of racetrack breakout we've seen from Gun Runner. All this buzz about Unified can hardly be attributed to ninth in the freshman's championship, and zero graded stakes action to date. People are plainly loving what they are seeing, in flesh and blood. If his first crop can build on a promising start, then, and his second can run anything like they must look, this fee will be one of many things left in the rear-view mirror.

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